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Starbucks Ethical Coffee Sourcing

An Assessment Conducted by Conservation International

Conservation International (CI) has worked with Starbucks for more than a decade to help ensure
coffee is produced in keeping with the company’s commitment to doing business responsibly.
With guidance from CI, Starbucks developed and launched a comprehensive set of sourcing
guidelines in 2004 that encourages the adoption of environmentally and socially responsible
practices related to coffee production. These guidelines are the foundation for the Starbucks™
Shared Planet™ commitment to ethical sourcing. (link to

In 2008, the partnership between Starbucks and CI was renewed with an expanded focus on
mitigating the impacts climate change may have on coffee producers and ensuring long-term
stability of the farms and coffee quality.

As a first step, we are working to assess how effective Starbucks ethical coffee sourcing
guidelines – called Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices – have been thus far at driving
the adoption of socio-economic and environmental best practices within the network of
participating suppliers within the Starbucks coffee supply chain. We are doing this assessment in
two phases:

• Phase One involves reviewing reports and scorecards submitted by third-party verifiers
who audited farms and mills against the criteria for C.A.F.E. Practices. We have
completed our review of verification records for 2007. Our findings and
recommendations are below.

• Phase Two will involve field studies and interviews with Starbucks coffee suppliers in
two countries – Guatemala and Colombia – where the company sources large quantities
of coffee. Further work to analyze reports and scorecards for 2005 and 2006 will also be
conducted as part of this phase. We will conduct Phase Two in the spring and summer of

Preliminary Findings from Phase One

We have compiled the following initial findings from Phase One of our study:

• Over the past three years (from 2005-2007), C.A.F.E. Practices has been implemented by
Starbucks suppliers in 19 countries across four continents, which overlap with 18 of the
world’s most biologically rich regions that are under significant threat. These are priority
areas for CI and Starbucks.
• In 2007, 99 percent of the farms participating in the program demonstrated that they had
not converted any natural forest areas to coffee production during the past 3 years. This
is important because of the essential role forests play in maintaining the ecosystem and
stabilizing the climate: Deforestation currently accounts for 20 percent of global
greenhouse gas emissions, more than is released by all the cars, trucks, planes, trains and
ships in the world combined.
• In 2007, 99 percent of the 140,973 participating farms were small farms of less than 12
hectares (30 acres). On these farms, more than 820,000 workers have benefited from the
social best practices outlined in C.A.F.E. Practices. For instance 99 percent of small
farms that had school age children living on the farm ensured that these children attended
school. And, nearly 90 percent of small farms provided habitable housing to workers.
• Of the more than 1,400 medium and large farms in 2007, 80 percent paid their workers
sick leave and 75 percent covered their medical expenses.
• Providing children with access to primary and secondary education is an important
component of the program, especially in remote farming communities where public
education is not available. In 2007, 97 percent of participating medium and large farms
located in communities where public education was not available provided access to
primary education, and 82 percent of farms provided access to secondary education.

Recommendations for Improvement

We have identified some initial opportunities that can help to improve C.A.F.E. Practices in the

• We strongly encourage Starbucks to continue monitoring and publicly reporting progress

made toward the goal of sourcing all coffee through the C.A.F.E. Practices program by
2015. We would also encourage the company to continue assessing the effects of the
C.A.F.E. Practices program on farmers, workers and the environment in coffee growing
regions on a periodic basis and to report these findings in a transparent manner.
• As part of an ongoing assessment process, we believe it would be beneficial for
Starbucks to engage locally-based organizations to help conduct field studies in key
coffee sourcing countries and determine the role Starbucks plays in supporting local
communities and conservation efforts.
• We recommend that Starbucks consider collecting supplemental information on living
conditions on small farms, especially in the area of access to medical care, which is an
area not scored on small farms. This would enable Starbucks to communicate more
holistically about the program and ensure small farms are represented in statements made
concerning living conditions on farms participating in C.A.F.E. Practices.

Next Steps
We are continuing our analysis of the data collected in the third party verifier reports on an
ongoing basis, looking for trends that may help us assess differences in performance from
country to country or region to region. This level of analyses will help Starbucks better
understand where C.A.F.E. Practices has achieved the best results and where additional focus is

We have also begun detailed mapping of coffee farms in Guatemala and Colombia to identify
shared geography between coffee farms and important areas for conservation. We will use this
information to select sites for our field survey so we can collect more detailed information on the
relative impact Starbucks program is having in these regions.

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